Explain Napoleon’s 3 major mistakes.
Napoleon’s three major mistakes were the Continental System, the Peninsular War, and the Invasion of Russia. Napoleon set up a blockade to prevent all trade and communication between Great Britain and other European nations – this was called the Continental System. Many people smuggled cargo from Britain into Europe. Napoleon’s allies disregarded the policy. The blockade did weaken British trade; however, it did not destroy it. In addition, Britain responded with its own blockade. In an effort to get Portugal to accept the Continental System, Napoleon sent an invasion force through Spain. The Spanish people protested, and Napoleon removed the Spanish king and put his own brother on the throne. For six years guerrillas attacked French armies in Spain. They worked in small groups that ambushed French troops and then fled into hiding. The Invasion of Russia also occurred because he was attempting to enforce the blockade. The Russian czar refused to stop selling grain to Britain. Russia and France’s alliance broke down, and Napoleon decided to invade Russia. When going into war, Alexander, Russia’s czar, pulled back his troops, refusing to be lured into an unequal battle. On this retreat, the Russians practiced a scorched-earth policy, burning grain fields and slaughtering livestock so the French had nothing to eat. Napoleon moved onto Moscow. When Napoleon entered Moscow, the city was in flames. Alexander had destroyed Russia’s “holy city” rather than surrendering it. Napoleon started with 422,000 troops, but after the retreat from Moscow, they had 10,000 soldiers.